Hong Kong, May 13 (ANI): Hong Kong's largely opposition-free legislature approved a new bill that will require public officers to pledge allegiance to the pro-China government.
The bill was passed by 40 votes for and one vote against, Hong Kong Free Press reported.
Under the amended legislation, members of the 18 district councils - predominately controlled by the pro-democracy camp - will be subject to a loyalty pledge that is already required for senior government officials, civil servants, lawmakers and judges.
The new laws are part of sweeping changes that Beijing has ordered for Hong Kong in order to quash dissent and increase its control over the city.
Under the new powers, all public office holders will be required to make a "pledge of loyalty" that they must adhere to throughout their term.
Critics have said that the new law was a move to "suppress the opposition."The approved amendments included two lists that set out conduct deemed as complying with - or violating - the allegiance oath.
Any public officer who commits acts endangering national security refuses to recognise China's sovereignty over Hong Kong, solicits interference by foreign governments or commits acts that undermine the "overall interests" of the Hong Kong will be seen as breaching the vow.
Under the approved amendments, the secretary for justice may bring proceedings against a legislator or district councillor at any time during their term if he or she is suspected of contravening the oath.
China is tightening its grip on Hong Kong through a series of laws. The country imposed the draconian National Security Law in Hong Kong last year.
The law criminalises secession, subversion, and collusion with foreign forces and carries with it strict prison terms. It came into effect on July 1. Since then, a number of former pro-democracy lawmakers have been arrested. (ANI)